Golf / 57th US Masters: Risk game pays for Langer: Beck's conservative instincts open the door to German victory

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The Independent Online
BERNHARD LANGER, whose victory in the 57th Masters was the fifth by a European in six years, was so confident on Sunday morning he wore colours that would blend with the Green Jacket. If winning the Masters can ever be a cakewalk this was it. He led by four strokes after the third round and won by four with an 11-under-par total of 277, five shots better than his winning score here in 1985.

Eight years ago Curtis Strange led by three strokes with six holes to play and when he went in the creek at 13 his game disintegrated. 'People said that Curtis lost it rather than that I won it,' Langer said. 'I don't agree with that. I don't care how I win as long as I get the lowest score.' On that occasion he was dressed in red. 'I looked like a Christmas tree last time,' he said.

For some extraordinary reason, and no doubt for some extraordinary fee, Langer returned to the course yesterday morning for a photo call with Japanese photographers. In professional golf everything has a price and everything is for sale.

Langer, who won dollars 250,000 ( pounds 170,000) for finishing second in the Players' Championship in Florida a few weeks ago, won dollars 306,000 here and that makes him the leading money-winner on the US Tour even though he is only a part-time performer in America. After his triumph, which has restored a career that went through several crises, Langer, a devout Christian, said: 'Easter Sunday is the greatest day in the world for me. If I had lost it would still have been the greatest day. I prayed for strength and a calm hand.'

Langer, who had not broken par in the final round since winning here in 1985, shot 70 on Sunday. He was conservative over the front nine - one bogey, one birdie - and he reeled off 10 successive pars. In the course of the tournament he had a few strokes of luck. In the first round his ball landed within two feet of the water at the 15th and at the 11th on Sunday his six-iron approach was pulled left, dangerously close to the water. At that point Langer, still on nine under, had had his lead whittled to one by Dan Forsman.

'It was pretty obvious that I had to be aggressive,' he said. No sooner had Langer thought about changing his game plan than Forsman retreated from the leaderboard. The 12th, which earlier in the week had hurt Nick Faldo with a quadruple-bogey seven, did the same for Forsman. He hit a seven-iron into the water, took a penalty drop and hit his next shot thin and that too found a watery grave. He went from eight under to four under.

Langer, on the 11th green, was an interested spectator. 'I knew that Forsman was out of the picture and that it was down to Beck and myself,' he said. It was no contest. Langer, who has a grotesque putting method to combat the yips which three times have threatened to undermine his game, holed a good putt on 12 to save par (he had only two three-putts all week) and effectively delivered the coup de grace on the par-five 13th. Beck hit the green in two and then Langer hit a three-iron from 202 yards to within 20 feet of the hole. He rolled in the putt for an eagle three, the result, he said, of three perfect strokes.

Langer turned professional at 15 after earning pocket money at the Augsburg Country Club near his home in Anhausen. On the wall of the caddie shack was a Jack Nicklaus instruction chart and it was from that that Langer taught himself how to play golf. His father, a soldier in the German army in the Second World War, was captured by the Russians in 1944 and escaped by jumping from a train. He is employed as a bricklayer in Anhausen and his wife works as a waitress.

US MASTERS (Augusta National) Final scores and prize-money (US unless stated): 277 B Langer (Ger) 68 70 69 70 ( pounds 204,000). 281 C Beck 72 67 72 70 ( pounds 122,400). 283 T Lehman 67 75 73 68; J Daly 70 71 73 69; S Elkington (Aus) 71 70 71 71; L Wadkins 69 72 71 71 ( pounds 54,400). 284 J-M Olazabal (Sp) 70 72 74 68; D Forsman 69 69 73 73 ( pounds 36,566). 285 P Stewart 74 70 72 69; B Faxon 71 70 72 72 ( pounds 31,733). 286 A Forsbrand (Swe) 71 74 75 66; S Ballesteros (Sp) 74 70 71 71; C Pavin 67 75 73 71; S Simpson 72 71 71 72; R Floyd 68 71 74 73; F Zoeller 75 67 71 73 ( pounds 23,233). 287 I Woosnam (GB) 71 74 73 69; M Calcavecchia 71 70 74 72; H Twitty 70 71 73 73; J Sluman 71 72 71 73. 288 M O'Meara 75 69 73 71; F Couples 72 70 74 72; L Mize 67 74 74 73; A Lyle (GB) 73 71 71 73; J Maggert 70 67 75 76; R Cochrane 70 69 73 76. 289 J Nicklaus 67 75 76 71; H Irwin 74 69 74 72; J Sindelar 72 69 76 72; N Henke 76 69 71 73. 290 B Lietzke 74 71 71 74; G Norman (Aus) 74 68 71 77; A Magee 70 75 69 76. 291 G Sauers 74 71 75 71; B Gilder 69 76 75 71; P Mickelson 72 71 75 73; C Stadler 73 74 69 75. 292 J Haas 70 73 75 74. 293 N Faldo (GB) 71 76 79 67; T Schulz 69 76 76 72; D Waldorf 72 75 73 73; K Clearwater 74 70 75 74; J Cook 76 67 75 75; L Janzen 67 73 76 77. 294 M Ozaki (Japan) 75 71 77 71; N Ozaki (Japan) 74 70 78 72; T Watson 71 75 73 75; J D Blake 71 74 73 76; C Parry (Aus) 69 72 75 78. 295 G Morgan 72 74 72 77; B Ogle (Aus) 70 74 71 80. 296 D Peoples 71 73 78 74; C Montgomerie (GB) 71 72 78 75. 298 D Edwards 73 73 76 76; D Love 73 72 76 77; I Baker-Finch (Aus) 73 72 73 80. 299 G Hallberg 72 74 78 75; C Coody 74 72 75 78; 301 J Huston 68 74 84 75. 302 G Player (SA) 71 76 75 80. 303 B Andrade 73 74 80 76.

----------------------------------------------------------------- EUROPE'S AUGUSTA MASTERY ----------------------------------------------------------------- Year Winner Score 1985 B Langer 282 1986 J Nicklaus 279 1987 L Mize *285 1988 A Lyle 281 1989 N Faldo *283 1990 N Faldo *278 1991 I Woosnam 277 1992 F Couples 275 1993 B Langer 277 * denotes won in play-off -----------------------------------------------------------------

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